On October 11, 2023, the National Assembly of People’s Power announced that the process of municipal delegates taking reporting back to their constituencies would be suspended until the first semester of 2024 as a result of the electricity crisis that has had Cuba on tenterhooks over the past few days.
I don’t know what reporting a municipal delegate could present for a situation that is beyond them from start to finish. Accountability assemblies have never made sense because voters have never held any real power over the terms in office of their neighborhood delegates, nor have they ever asked for a public policy that is binding – in accordance with laws stipulated in the 1976 and 2019 Constitutions, and in the last two electoral laws passed from 1992 up until the present day.
Accountability is much-needed for democracy, but also for authoritarian governments, who put on the sheepskin of citizen participation. In a democracy, if leaders (representatives, the elected) don’t report on what they do with public funds, the people’s needs, with political promises made in the campaigns leading up to the elections they gave them their positions, citizens quickly understand that it doesn’t matter if they go to the ballot box or not, because the legitimacy of democracy doesn’t define everyday lives, the strings of power are pulled elsewhere.
Therein lies the problem of alleged democracies in the world – almost all of whom deserve loud popular trumpets -, but this isn’t a problem for Cuba. We are on the lowest rung of the ladder. We still haven’t suffered the crisis of democratic reliability, of failed or fake institutions that make it look like they’re for people to participate, but don’t allow them to make decisions. We’re still not at this point yet.
The Cuban people, made up of citizens on the archipelago and in the diaspora, aren’t living in a democracy either, but authoritarianism is a political tool that can take on any guise it wants to look like an ideal, economic, and social political system.
The lack of Rule-of-Law, legality, financial transparency, independent controls of autonomous institutions, the observation of NGOs with safeguards for their work, the international fiscalization of inspectors from international organizations (many of which don’t have access to Cuba) judicial independence and bodies that balance that political system (a constitutional court or Ombudsman for the people), make the Cuban landscape a lot more difficult than in many other places.
According to government discourse, Cuban democracy is based on real empowerment of the masses and social groups previously without access to education, healthcare, housing, and culture. Then, it was built on an institutionalism that should ensure popular sovereignty (socialist democracy, people’s power, accountability meetings, revocation of people in office, criticism and self-criticism).
The above, going hand-in-hand with the single party State and no division of power and state functions, with social and historic organizations, an atheist State from 1976-1992, a political system without direct suffrage to choose the Head of State, bans on private property from 1968 to 2019 (along with exhaustive limitations on the buying/selling of homes and cars, the right to inherit through a will, to enter and leave the country, on national tourism for decades, the creation of political organizations, on the registration of associations and foundations, on the freedom of speech, assembly and protest).
The current landscape in Cuba is ruin, devastation and pain. Most of the population has poor or little access to a destroyed, impoverished public health system, that is slowly becoming privatized by staff at hospitals who sell medicines and anything humanly necessary at State facilities. For decades now, hospitals have been dirty, the bathrooms don’t work, patients’ diets are awful, there is only minimal basic comfort for companions of hospitalized people. On top of that, shortages of doctors, nurses, dentists and experts is also being seen today. It’s a huge collapse in the eyes of an incompetent, vain, proud, tyrannical, arrogant, and ridiculous Government.
Social problems that the Cuban Revolution had promised to resolve are now multiplying. There is a food crisis, energy crisis, migration crisis, demographic crisis, transport crisis, financial crisis, consensus crisis, housing crisis, sports crisis. In fact, there is a crisis of national culture and the existence of a Cuban nation.
But we have the same Government. It isn’t moving a centimeter outside its secret comfort zone. It’s just there to persecute intellectuals, artists, university teachers, independent journalists, political activists, youth leaders. It’s also there to lie, to make fun of the Cuban people and to pass off as an accountable popular power when it’s a Government that nobody elected, that subjugates its citizens and also uses hundreds of its honest municipal delegates who truly want to do something, but they can’t because it was never within their functions to do this.
Now, the National Assembly, that should be ashamed, and should change the insipid Government that insults the Cuban people’s intelligence and feelings, is saying that accountability assemblies have been postponed.
I’d recommend a different version of these meetings. It’s best to tell the Government to quit, that it has not been up to the task.
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